A poem by Sorrel Wood.
I looked for you in the Sistine Chapel,
Peering through a bustling scrum of tourists.
One tour guide waved a faded Minnie Mouse
Precariously flopping on a selfie-stick
To herd his chattering, snap-chatting flock.
Then I saw you: bearded, robed, reclining;
Your Father Christmas face so iconic
That it was all a disappointing déjà-vu.
Your accusatory finger pointed
Towards a languid, naked, tight-muscled Adam
Genitals small as a bunch of shrivelled figs.
A megaphone bellowed demands for silence
And I tried to pray, I really tried
But a backpack swung in my praying face
And I was carried by the rushing crowd
Like a rootless branch of river driftwood
Out of the chapel, towards the cafe.
I sought you out in the vast corridors
Of the Vatican art collection.
I found you, a thousand versions of you:
Baby doll eyes, girlish hair, impotent
Bearing faint traces of Christ-likeness
Like the almost-familiarity
Of meeting someone’s cousin.
I tried to buy you in the gift shop.
A glittering, gold cross (five hundred Euros)
Sparkled in the soft, Italian light.
“Nothing made in China! Everything blessed!”
A wrinkled nun informed me with a grin.
I wondered if the blessing extended
To the red-rimmed shot glasses, key rings,
The black and white “sexy priests” calendar.
I pined for you in the almost-quiet
Of a shrine at St Peter’s Basilica.
I lit a turgid electric candle
Longing for the warm light of a real flame.
And as the cameras clicked I understood
That I would find you where you’ve always been:
Healing leprous scabs, washing grubby feet
Kissing the smudged-lipstick face of the whore
Scooping up the knee-grazed child again
And when I found you, I would come to see
I was already lost in your embrace.